Saniquellie City: Day 1

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The First day of the TRC Public Hearings Proceedings held on Monday May 12, 2008 at the Administrative Building, Saniquellie City Nimba County. The Hearings session started with the Commissioners of the TRC being ushered into their seats followed by the singing of the national anthem by the audience. This was followed by a welcome from the City Mayoress followed by the traditional leaders who presented kola nuts to the Commissioners of to show a sign of welcome and acceptance of the process in the county. The TRC County Coordinator for the county was called upon to introduce members of the TRC and the County Authority present at the occasion after which the Acting Superintendent was called on to make a comment. This was followed by a speech from the Chairman of the TRC Cllr. Jerome Verdier after which he introduced the Commissioners of the TRC to the audience before declaring open the Hearings Process in Nimba County.

Welcome Remarks by the City Marjorie's

Good morning to all and welcome to the honorable superintendent of the country and staff, our friends, Christian brothers, our Muslim brothers, students, press ladies and gentlemen, I first of all extend many thanks to the almighty God who has make it possible for us to be here today to grace this occasion.

Those that have come from far and near I take this special time to wholehearted welcome those of you who have come and I know we are here for a purpose. We pray that very body pay attention kindly and listen to what so ever that will be said in here. I take this time to welcome you into the great city of Saniquellie ladies and gentlemen you all are welcome.

Traditional welcome by Chiefs and Elders

Well, I serve in the capacity; I am the law major of this county. I am on the committee and I am the chairlady for the mobilization for the chiefs and elders in Nimba County and my boss has gone for a tour, so, in his absent , I am going to proceed for him to give you people the traditional welcome. Our sisters and brothers that have come from Monrovia our Commissioners, our welcome traditionally go special to you. You people have come to us. So, we will take this time to present to you this cola-nuts, as a sign of appreciation in this city , as long as you people are here, we are going to take care of you people until your departure. I thank you all. Mr. Chairman, we take this time to wholeheartedly welcome you and your interreges into this city. We will not just say it is by mouth, but we will present you these cola-nuts.

Interdiction of quest by TRC county coordinator Mr. Samuel Z. Quarter:

Cllr. Jerome Verdier Chairman of Truth commissions, honorable commissioners of the TRC, all protocol and sustain. It is a pleasure for me to take this time to introduce the county authorities to our visitors. I like to introduce to you the county Assistance superintendent for operation who is currently acting as superintendent, honorable Kromah, and also the Law Major, Madam Mary Nyan Konnpah the superintendent for the marketing Association Madam Beatrice Blah. The upper Nimba election commission majestic law maker honorable Prestoner Mobeyea our elders and educator, Mr. Gbarkor you are welcome and a educator from Yekepa who travel to come , Mr. Saye Cookyen and also Mr. Ezekiel Wortee the head of CODA who is implementing for TRC in Yekepa. Honorable Cllr. Jeromoe Viader and other commissioners, these are our county authorities here present. So, I thank you all.

Special remarks by the Honorable Acting Superintendent Mr. Moham Kromah:

Mr. Chairman and members of the TRC, Madam City Major and government officers here present fellow citizens, ladies and gentlemen. Today IS Suppose to be a happy day for us. If you look on this poster, you will see a very beautiful and attractive paint confronting our difficult task for a better future. If you have gee-gar in your toes the best thing is not to let it remain there. I think the best thing is to take it out so that you will walk better. I think every one of us here today we should embrace the work that these commissioners have come to do here. We heard from various speakers concerning the TRC but this post- war Liberia we set some branch mark we have set up what we call reduction strategies we are trying to introduce good governance , we are trying to introduce accountability , we are trying to practice fare play for the rules of laws, we are trying to achieve economic recovery to bring reforms in our judiciary but this problems , these issues of reconciliations is about parliament interest of Liberia because we can do all of these things if we can not reconcile as a nation. So, the job the TRC is doing is a parliament interest to every one of us so, and we should embrace this day, and come forth those of you that were victimize during the war have to come here and talk, we encourage you to talk the truth. so that your hearts can be clear and we ask you not to just come talk the truth talk exactly what happen to you don't just lie because you want to tanager the repetition of some body else. I think if we do this, we will have love for one another. And if we have love for one another, we will better cooperate and work together and the process we can consult this war torn Liberia. So we want to take this time to welcome you that have come forth and we want to welcome the TRC, and we want to congratulate you for the excellent job you are doing. This work is very important t to every one of us. And we welcome you once again. The superintendent of proper Mr. Karmai is in Uganda but we are here to represent him and I wish you a enjoyment stay in our county. Thank you very much.

Special remarks from the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners Cllr. Jerome Verdier:

Good morning every body, honorable Acting superintendent, honorable city Marjorie's, our elders , educator, civil societies, institution here represented, students and youth of this great county fellow commissioners, we are very pleased to be in Nimba county today. We gone all around the county and today is the 11th start and all of us in Liberia are award that the conflict we had, had created serious problems for our country. And just as the superintendent said if we do all the things about development , if we decide to improve ourselves economically, if we try to reduce poverty , if we improve education, if we do everything else, but we don't reconcile as a people, all of those things will not yield fruits. That is why we are happy that the authorities of this county and citizens are supporting the work of the TRC. Pace in Liberia will be impossible with out Nimba County; you play a very important part of the peace process. And that is why we are calling on you to give your support to the TRC process.

All Liberians have agree to support this process, we fought almost 20years of war we can find answers to all of the questions that have been given us hard time over the past. Why do we have to fight in the first place? If we fought, why is it we were fighting? What went wrong? and now that the war came and past, importantly, why should we do now to make sure that we don't have conflict the way we experience it , with the violence, with the destroyers, just so we can't have it in the future, what is this changes all about ? Reconciliation we agree is a process. Even if you want to take a journey of a thousand miles, you have to take the first step and reconciliations very, very instrumental to our future development. But the TRC is a first step towards genuine reconciliation. What is it we are reconciling about? Was any body or group of people offended? If so, who created the offenses? If we understand the problem like the superintendent said which truth is, we know how to move forward. It is not an individual; it is a notion problem. What happen in Grand Gedeh should claim the attention of all Liberians everywhere. What happen in Monrovia should claim the attention of Liberians everywhere, cause the conflict started in 1979 it was just a sample rice riot and it happen only in Monrovia and most of us weather in Bomi county or anywhere we say that Monrovia thing.

We in Nimba we say, we can feed ourselves so rice is not the only thing. But precisely, one year after there was a military coupe. what happen is just a little demonstration in Monrovia , resulted for a change for the entire government and lot of people die, even more then the people that die in 1979 there we had the problem on hand it was just rice that was political and brought shame and many people did. At that time, we didn't ask ourselves those hard questions why did we have the rice riot? What was responsible for the rice riot? What do we need to do, to avoid this violence from happing again? And so, one year, there was violence again. Again, we say well that this county, that those people, that these other people. We didn't ask ourselves what was going wrong. What happen? What do we need to do, to avoid violence from happening in our society? So by 1982, we had violence. 83, we had more violence. We did not ask ourselves those questions. 84, 85, 87, 89, 1990, since we became a nation that does not ask questions, nation that does not look back at what happen , a nation that say let bad gone be bad gone, a notion that say let forget about the past , a nation that says don't open the old wounds, we started digging more from 1990, strictly from 2003, 13years we went on we were on fighting among ourselves , we were just confused, now if hundred persons die in 1979, in 2003 hundreds of thousands have die if only supermarkets and stories were looted in Monrovia and in 1979 by 2003 the whole country was looted including 100 persons displaced from their homes by 1979 -2003 the entire country was displaced. Every citizen has to move from one country to another during the 14years period of the conflict. If international partners had not come to enforce the peace , to help us find a way out, we will stay be fighting today so that is why all of us was involve in the conflict to bring peace and say let us now find the root causes of the conflict in Liberia. So, what happen can't happen again so let us establish the TRC. This how the TRC has come and we have gone from one county to another. We are understanding the problems; we know what the war did. We understand now why it happened. For the views of every body their experiences of every body is important that's why we are moving from county to county. We thank all the people of Liberia and the people of Nimba County for the support and commitment to peace and National reconciliation. This is public institution we can all criticize, we can all contribute to the bottom line let stay together as one people so that peace can be a reality.

Again honorable superintendent, honorable Marjorie's, we thank you all for welcoming us and for the solidarity of support you have pledge to TRC process before I take my seat, I declare the public hearings open. I will like to introduce the commissioners here present for you all to know. At the far right is Commissioner Omu Syllah, next to commissioner Syllah is Commissioner Stewart. Next to Commissioner Dede Dolopei

he is the vice chair. Next to her is commissioner Jerome Coleman, next to him is commissioner Pear Brown Bull and Shark Kafuma Konneh. We all left our private lives and accepted the task of the Liberian people to devoice our selves from every thing and be neutral to make sure to get to the bottom of the root causes of the Liberian conflict and find lasting peace and solution. So we thank you and whit the authorities of the commissioners, I hereby declare the hearings open.

First Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Saniquellie, Nimba County

Aboitha Keigar

(First Primary Witness of day one)

The First Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and she was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer. She was accompanied by an interpreter.

Chairman: Good morning, how are you feeling this morning? Thanks for coming to the TRC, it is for all Liberians and that's why when Liberians come out, we are happy, all of us are trying to find a way forward; what ever you say here today will help us for tomorrow in Liberia. Please tell us your name:

Primary Witness: My name is Aboitha Keigar

What do you do for living?

Primary Witness: Nothing.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live in Kahnplay, Gbehlay-Geh District.

What is your age or when you were born?

Primary Witness: I don't know my day of birth but I am 60 years old

Primary Witness: I great you all, the way I am sitting here, this war that took place it suffer me a lot and they rape me. Those that rapped me I don't know them; they raped me until I am not to myself today. I am suffering and my hips are hurting me as I am sitting here. They beat me all over my body and I am having a lot of complaints today. I have nothing and nobody to help me, when I heard about you people, people said the way you can't speak English how will you speak to them and I said they are the people that will help me tomorrow and they will save my future so I have to go to them.

The people that treated me they treated me so badly and I am having body pains today. I don't know them and I don't know where they are coming from, that is what I can remember today. The rapping they did to me was a gang rape and so I can not remember what went on because I was not to myself. That is all for now if I remember I will tell your. I thank God for the TRC and I know if I come to you people I will have help from you that is why I am here, I don't have any fear as I am here before you.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: Where you were raped?

Primary Witness: I was raped in Belerglay, Zoe-Geh district.

What time it happened? Was it the first war, second war or the third war?

Primary Witness: It happened during the first war - 1990.

Which fighting group was in that particular area?

Primary Witness: All I know that they were rebels.

How the rebels were dressed?

Primary Witness: I do not know we were just all in the bushes running around.

Was it you alone that happened to?

Primary Witness: No, we were many.

Do you remember name of anyone of the leaders of the rebels?

Primary Witness: Yes, I remember one Wongan from Lekpailey.

Commissioner Konneh: Thanks for coming this morning and sorry for what happened to you. All those that did that wrong thing to you are wicked people. Those who did that have heavy psychological effect on them; those that did that are guilty as soon as they see you. What clothes the rebels were wearing that day?

Primary Witness: I will not lie, it was not soldier clothes some of them were using fishing nets, while others were using masks and different types of clothes.

You say who was their leader?

Primary Witness: Wongan.

Is he still alive?

Primary Witness: No.

Which fighting group he was with?

Primary Witness: He was not Doe soldier; whether Charles Taylor people, we called them rebels.

Why you think they selected you alone to do this thing to?

Primary Witness: It did not happened to my one, we were many and the rebels who did that were also many.

Why you think they selected you first?

Primary Witness: They killed many people and they said that we were Never-Die Church members.

They did that to other members of your church?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Commissioner Bull: Thanks for coming; the thing you talked here is one of the things the TRC suppose to investigate; you have talked for plenty women who could not come here to talk, you have also talked for all the Never-Die Church members that were also affected that day. Your testimony will help us to do our work and it will go down in history. Thanks for coming.

Commissioner Coleman: Sorry for the bad things that happened to you. Any one of your family member died in the war or after the war?

Primary Witness: Yes, some died before the war.

Do you have any brothers and sisters?

Primary Witness: No, they are no more.

Name any two of your people that died during the war.

Primary Witness: Mangou - brother and Diah also a brother.

When these died?

Primary Witness: They died during the 1990 war.

Do you have children?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How many children?

Primary Witness: 13 children.

Is your husband alive?

Primary Witness: No.

He died during the war?

Primary Witness: No, I was not having any husband.

Anything happened to you before the 1990 war?

Primary Witness: No. but I have a question for the other woman. What I said about women, was it bad or good?

Commissioner Bull: All that you said was very good, it is for the benefit of all women; in fact, the AFELL had managed to put into law rape bill. Anyone who rape, is liable to 7 years in jail.

Commissioner Dolopei: Thanks for coming. Your testimony will help us to do our work; we are asking all these questions because some of the things you said we did not understand it, that's why we are asking you for better understanding. Thanks for coming.

Commissioner Stewart: Thanks for coming. Do not be scare nobody will do anything to you. Where was you church?

Primary Witness: This man came from Kahnplay and came in our church in Belerglay while we were having conference.

Your hide yourself as Never-Die church member?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Why you were raped amongst all the people?

Primary Witness: I do not want to lie.

Anything happened to anyone of your church members?

Primary Witness: No, I have nothing to say.

Commissioner Syllah: I join my friends to say sorry. It is not easy for a woman to come out like this and talk. Thanks for coming.

Primary Witness: I have just said, one person cannot die twice; what happened to me and what I saw is what I have said, I cannot say anything else besides this.

Chairman: Thanks for coming, what you have said is very important because you have spoken for thousands of women; our constitution forbids that. Has your body been affected as a result of the rape and beating?

Primary Witness: Yes, from my pelvic to my knees, I cannot feel good so I have come for your to help me, I also want your to build a house for me.

Before you leave, is there anything you want to tell the TRC?

Primary Witness: Yes, I have come to you people to please help with treatment so that I can survive; I also want your to build a house for me and my children.

Second Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Saniquellie, Nimba County

Mamadee Kromah

(Second Primary Witness of day one)

The Second Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.

Chairman: good morning and welcome to the TRC, we are happy that you can come to tell your story to the TRC. The TRC is for all Liberians and this is the time for you to tell your story and thank you. Can you tell us you name again?

Primary Witness: My name is Mamadee Kromah.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live in Kahnplay.

What do you do in Kahnplay?

Primary Witness: I am a farmer.

What do you plant?

Primary Witness: I plant Coco, coffee, kola and banana.

What is your date of birth?

Primary Witness: I am 68 years old.

Primary Witness: My first statement, I didn't plan to come to any government official, because the government had sent some boy to come to us, because when the war is over, they sent you to us. When the war started, the second attack that happen in Kahnplay, we were in the house, he government troop and the rebel were exchanging fire. So the commander came and knock at the door, he said they are all Mandingo people. When they came, I ran and went in the toilet. The first person they arrested, was my brother, they carry him and slaughter him behind the house. After that, that was my big brother, and then, my step mother was kill and his little baby. The imam that as with us, was also killed. So after that, he said if I find that Manmade man, I will kill him. So I stay in the toilet until 7:00. So before I came out, thy put the houses on fire. The amount of houses that were burn from the Mandingos in Kahnplay was 153. My own house was burn. So I left from there and I came to Saniquellie. From that time, they kill all my family, I am not too well, but I not plan to revenge, but the person who kill my family I use to see him, man to that there that it I get. The 5 motor bikes that was there, they burn all, so that what I want you people to help me. Fort me and the man to sit down and talk it is not the problem but it is left with your to do your work. So that all I get to say.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: we want to say thank you in spite of all that happen to you, you have plan to revenge. What is the name of the name of the man that did all that things to you?

Primary Witness: His name is Yeane Kieoto.

Does he live in Karnplay?

Primary Witness: He use to live there, but after that thing, he is not there again.

What is he doing?

Primary Witness: I can just see him in the street, but I don't know what his occupation is.

When did this happen?

Primary Witness: It all happened in 1990.

You said that time; government troop and rebel were fight?

Primary Witness: He came and fought against the government troop, but we heard that he was with NPFL, Charles Taylor group

Commissioner Syllah: we want to that you for coming to the TRC and we say sorry for all that you when through. Can you call the names of the people that die from you during the war?

Primary Witness: First is the name of the imam that died from us,

Is there any reason why they kill these people?

Primary Witness: I was hearing when they were killing the other people, I had no power to ask why were they killing them.

After you came from the hiding, can you tell me how they were killed?

Primary Witness: I didn't see the bodies, but people that saw it, told me of they were slaughter.

Can you tell me if they were buried?

Primary Witness: The people that was in the town, were forced to burry them in one hole, I even show it to the people that went there yesterday.

Can you l us what happen to the women and children?

Primary Witness: This Ganta war that happen, we were all here and the people never did any thing to us. So we want to thank them.

What is the name of the group of the people?

That was Yeane who was the head and did every thing.

Commissioner Steward: thank you for coming to share your experience with us, and we say sorry for the death of you relatives. Can you tell us the month?

Primary Witness: It happen in January 1990

Was it only Mandingo people who were killed in the town or other people were killed?

Primary Witness: Some Mandingos were killed and some government troop people were killed I saw their bodies.

How far is Kahnplay from Gbelegeh?

Primary Witness: It is not too far from Kahnplay.

Was it in the same town they had the never die people the woman who just left here said some thing about it.

Primary Witness: I don't know about the church people because we don't pray together.

When you came to Saniquellie, who was in control here?

Primary Witness: It was the government troop.

Did you stay here?

Primary Witness: No, I cross to guinea and stay there as a refugee.

How long did you stay there?

Primary Witness: I was there until Charles Taylor was elected.

How was life like in Guinea as a refugee?

Primary Witness: I receive suffering, all my things I carry there, I had to sell it to survive.

How is the relationship between the people since you came back, you said nothing happen to you?

Primary Witness: I said where the Mandingos were residing nothing happened to us, we stay there until everything was over, when we stay to here we were, when we return they had build houses on our land. The Arabic school we had there, we bought it from them he person who had the document for the school, that person was killed, and his house was burned, that's why I put it before your.

Has it reach the superintendents or any of the heads?

Primary Witness: This one, because we are together, we are united, the Arabic school we did not reach it to the government, because I before your, that why I talked about it.

Can you remember the total number of people that were killed?

Primary Witness: I don't know all, the only way, I will name of them and you will write it down, but I can't remember the total amount of people.

Since that time, have you people had feast or any thing for the people?

Primary Witness: We don't have the facilities to do the feast.

My last question, this guy who killed your people, you said you have been seeing him, has he talk to you or any one of the family to say sorry?

Primary Witness: He can speak to me when he sees me, but he does not know that I was in the toilet when he was killing my people and I have not even raise the issue to him.

But has he apologized to the people that were around, when he did the act?

Primary Witness: Yes, but he has never apologized to any body, but when he speaks, I always answer him, because we all are afraid of the government, so since you people have come, I leave it in your hand.

Commissioner Dolopei: thank you for coming and we say sorry. The time you were calling the name of the people, you never call their connection to us, so I will call their names and you will tell us your relation.

Primary Witness: Blamo Kaba Imam, Mayeavee Jabateh step-mother, Kavadee Kromah senior brother, Lassana Kromah brother, Layevesu big brother son, Maryouma Kromah the wife of Kavadee, Vovee Dolley Neighbor, Sekou Dolley a brother to Vovee

Did they kill any of your children?

Primary Witness: My own children, no.

Where did they kill the imam?

Primary Witness: In the house.

Did they kill any body in you mosques?

Primary Witness: No, they did not kill anybody in our mosques, but some people were killed but I was not present went it happened.

Commissioner Coleman: we want to say sorry for the death of your family members. Did you parents die before the war?

Primary Witness: Yes, my parents die before the war.

How many brothers and sisters do you have?

Primary Witness: We were 16 in number.

You mention 3 die in the war, is that all?

Primary Witness: Some of them die, but they did not die during the war, but by natural death.

How many children do you have?

Primary Witness: I have 14 children?

Did anything happen to them?

Primary Witness: No, nothing happen to them.

Where were they?

Primary Witness: They were in Monrovia with my brother he just died last year.

What's about your wife, is she ok?

Primary Witness: Yes, she's ok.

The people that came to your, were they Liberians or different people?

Primary Witness: They were all Gio people, it was on their face.

So how did they know you name?

Primary Witness: I don't know but I was in the toilet, I was spying he was giving the others.

Is he also Gio?

Primary Witness: Yes, he is Gio.

Did he tell you why they were killing the people?

Primary Witness: I heard Yeane saying we don't want to see these Mandingo people we will kill them.

Did they kill the entire government troop that came to attack?

Primary Witness: No, they did not kill all, because when I came to Saniquellie I saw some of them there.

You said you can't remember Kahnplay war, all the people tat die, were about 40 people.

Before the 1990 war, did you hear about any thing that happened to the people?

Primary Witness: No, I don't know of anything.

The 2003, can you tell us what happen to the people?

Primary Witness: During the2003 war, it was the city mayor who protected the people. Even when they came, some people wanted to do bad things to the Mandingo people, they say their hand na there. Even when we were in Kahnplay we were hearing that the Mandingos are suffering in Kahnplay.

Then why the city mayor saved you?

Primary Witness: They were telling us that we must not worry, they will protect us.

Commissioner Bull: I want to say thank you for coming. I am happy to see you from one of our old school days. You spoke I can remember right in this hall on the 21 men for reconciliation. Right in this war, I can remember the about the land despite land dispute to know the main cause of the war, and one of the main things in this land is the land dispute. And we did not stay long in Saniquellie because there were not too many problems here, but in Ganta we had a lot of problems there so thank you for bringing this us to the TRC about the Arabic school burning down in Kahnplay.

Commissioner Konneh: we want to thank you for coming and also want to express our sorrow for all that happened. This Yeane, was he a resident of Kahnplay?

Primary Witness: Before the war, he was staying around the Kahnplay, but he is not from Kahnplay it self.

Did you say you knew him before the war?

Primary Witness: Yes, he was a former Paramount Chief.

Was he the former paramount chief and the head of the rebel?

Primary Witness: Yes.

When they ask you about the never die church, you said you don't know, we agree that you are from different religious, but you all serve one God and we are all Liberians. And the second thing that you also need to know is not every body that will have the chance to come to the TRC, but if you know, you can talk, but if you don't know you don't have to talk, but can you remember any faction that came and ridded the never die church?

Primary Witness: I don't know I am not aware.

You say you remember the names of the people they killed out side your family, but not the number, can you call their names?

Primary Witness: Yes, I know some of their names, but they were not killed in my presence, those that I know their names, Kawo, Sekuo, Manmade Kamara, Sileki Fofana, Musa Tuwery, Musa Kamara, that all I can remember.

These people, were they residents of Kahnplay?

Primary Witness: Yes, they were resident in Kahnplay.

And since that day, you have not seen or heard about any of them, like they will say the person die, but after some time they will come?

Primary Witness: They kill all of them.

These people that you named, were they buried in the hole?

Primary Witness: No, they were not the ones.

Was there any thing done for them?

Primary Witness: No, there was no feast.

We know the Islamic way; there no feast for the dead, but the way they were killed but it will be like a prayer for them?

Primary Witness: Yes, we have done the funeral prayer for them.

Do you know the where about of the people that were killed, have they come back to Kahnplay?

Primary Witness: Yes, some of them have come back.

Chairman: Mr. Witness, we want to say thank you for coming and we express sympathy for the lost of the people. Before you leave is there any thing you want to tell us?

Primary Witness:
Yes, because of the looting, it has caused me to get Ulcer, and I am not even to my self. So I want to tell you to help me with treatment.

End of day One of the TRC Public Hearings Nimba County

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